by David Eide .

Ah newspapers! They are on the bottom rung of things but a necessary rung. Without that run how can you take the next step?

In the newspaper I've just read you can perceive the ugly turn of spirit that has overcome this country. And then the female columnist waving her arms, "hold on brothers and sisters- your ugly spirit is going to lead to painful consequences". And then the historical perspective on a n eternal problem, very precise and well-reasoned, laying the blame of the world's ills on secular nationalism which has replaced faith in some hearts. Then the grieving mother of dead children and husband of a wild man personally vowing to kill the individual responsible for her grief.

And college students destroying themselves in some false belief that they are learning about the world. You can tell how terrible things have become in recent American creative life by the effect it has on the naive and innocent who, at some point, rebel against that experience and join the mainstream.

It can be, no doubt, a deadly society. Newspapers lead you to believe that at any rate. It is interesting because almost all experience contradicts what goes on in newspapers. You never find the degradation newspapers love to report about without searching mightily for it. A kind of unconscious moral code develops, then, from the reading of papers year after year. It helps to organize the raw material but it is limited by choice and so is the general expression of a consensus view of reality. All of this is benign in itself.

You want to flee as quickly as possible from all those elements that would demoralize existence, destroy life instinct. There are many.

At some point reality becomes an absurd thing worth laughing to scorn. You can only become yourself once again through truth.

Sometimes one believes that people perform for some ambiguous audience they perceive is looking at them.

You have to ask yourself what draws you into this kind of attention. Why be all that concerned about the decisions of state, about happenings on the daily scene, about ugly personalities that clamor for attention, about the ways and means of killing other human beings? Do I have political interests? Am I attempting to push a program or leverage my way to some position of power or simply going around and making a nuisance of myself?

There is a peculiar irony to this world. If I have strong beliefs I suddenly see that all these other strong beliefs are as legitimate as my own and so the rationalizations for killing becomes that much more acute. How can my belief deny the legitimacy of another belief, a counter belief? And this counter belief has as much rationale behind it even if it appears to be strange, bizarre and even crazed from the position of my belief.

I don't have the answers. Nonetheless I think it is honorable to pursue the need for answers and to keep things on the up and up.

There are many things that do not set well for this generation. Too many have been taken away by one stupidity or another. Just as they become free by their rootless and affluent existence they become entrapped by it as well. They attempted to live in a vacuum and into this vacuum has streamed all sorts of ridiculous things.

Within the last 10 years I have yet to see some profound expression by this generation. It is entering the mainstream. It has developed a kind of periphery which has already over ripened and is picked off by lower aspect of this society. The majority of people and the majority of existence scarcely changes from generation to generation. The great change is all in the head and loses its vitality as the years go by.

It is fascinating to see who the undifferentiated evolves into different forms. This is the social ego, something you have to look at from time to time.

No greater challenges were thrown at the feet of this generation. There are no maps drawn for the types of territory this civilization has constructed. It is a thrashing in the wilderness with strange beasts, surprise, irony and so on. On the other hand, tremendous resources have been developed to thrash a bit easier.

I have sympathy for the kinds of experience I have seen some of my fellow creatures go through even if I don't agree with the resolution.

What the experience of the past 15 years has taught me:

  • The need to re-invigorate the categories of freedom which seem so tenuous at times. What are the responsibilities of that freedom? What pressures are put on that freedom? How do you resolve personal freedom with the physical and psychological constraints built into society.
  • The necessity to become as rational as possible about events and politics without losing that instinct for problems and dangers that rationalism subdues.
  • A cognizance of the amount of material now available that plunges into the dim past, the ocean depths, to deep space, to the interior of the mind itself. A large amount of interpretations is accumulating about all of this
  • That the intellect is as capable of producing illusion as emotion. Yet, dreams and aspirations must be expressed whenever they arise.

* * * * * * * *

What difference does it make if I trace out a few patterns of relationship abiding between powers in the world? It's not that I don't have interest because I do. It's that I can't find the handle on it really. Do I think it is a good thing that the power mad are ruling the world and determining a great deal in it?

My attention is restless when it is being forced to rationalize the status quo of this world. And then a great sigh, "well, after all, what can one do? Call the world insane and build a few fences to keep out the crazy ones?" I have had to disentangle myself from that connection that I had made when younger between growing consciousness and the world as it operates from crisis to crisis; as it is reported in the news at any rate. Disentangle myself from the force of event and political personality, that is necessary to do. Pay attention to the particulars.

While you have to give up the illusion of "saving the world" you shouldn't give up whatever knowledge you have come across and have available to you. I suppose at base bottom it is a matter of, "if the madmen dominating this world want to destroy it there is little one can do. Are these madmen representative of what is best in nature? Is one forced to choose between American madmen and Russian madmen?" Do you think these petty contests between liberals and conservatives are going to solve problems? Do you think leaders of corporations are going to solve problems and effectively deal with the type of power this age has unleashed?

You have to believe that things will turn out all right, that things will survive. That's where you put your hope at any rate. Skill one: Learn not to be manipulated by fear or manipulated by power. Axioms that go to the heart of the matter.


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